Personal Finance Addict

Personal Finance Addict: June 2014

Jun 16, 2014

Budgeting Without Stress

Not everyone loves to budget like I do. I have always liked playing with numbers, figuring out ways to save money, looking for the best deals, etc. However, I always struggled to find a budgeting system that I can really stick with. I recently ran across YNAB (You Need a Budget). I tried this once before and I’m not sure what happened, but it didn't stick. This time is different. Maybe they made some changes since the last time that I really like or maybe it just wasn't what I was looking for at the time. I decided to give it another shot because they offer a free 34 day trial, which does not require a credit card. It only took one day for me to be hooked.

First of all, it is very easy to use. They have great free tutorials, classes, and forums filled with YNAB users who are very passionate about this program. What else I love about YNAB is that you only budget the money you currently have and if something comes up that causes you to go over budget in one category, simply adjust other categories. They call this “rolling with the punches”. Whenever you get paid or get money from anywhere, think about what you will need to pay before you get paid again. If you cover your necessities and have money left over, you can start paying off debt or putting towards rainy day funds, or build a buffer. A buffer is where you save enough money in that category to pay for one month's worth of expenses.  Once you have that saved up, you will always be a month ahead on your budgeting and bills.  You can pay your bills at the beginning of the month or whenever you want to instead of waiting until you have enough money to cover it.  Better yet, set up automatic payments so you don't have to forget to pay them and since you have a buffer, you don't have to worry about the money not being there.  There are many advantages to doing this, the biggest being you don't have to worry about paying any of your bills late again and avoiding late fees and negative credit reporting.  When you see the possibilities it helps you make better spending decisions and you actually try to stay within budget. I really only check my bank account daily to be sure there are no fraudulent charges or anything that I may have forgotten about. I simply check my budget categories each morning to see how much I have remaining in whatever categories I may spend in that day.

The other thing I love about this (which I’m certain they didn't have before) is their smart phone app for Android (they also have one for the iPhone and are working on a Windows phone version). Whatever transactions I add on the go sync up with my desktop version and I can view the balances of all my categories on the app as well.

For anyone that does not currently budget or is not happy with their current budgeting system, I urge you to just try the free trial. You have nothing to lose since it does not require a credit card up front. If you don’t purchase the program, you just won’t be able to use it anymore after the 34 days are up. If you decide to purchase it, the cost is a one-time fee of $60; however, if you use my referral link, you will only pay $54. I have to say I am the last one to pay for things when there are free options, but this is completely worth the money. You won't find anything free that will work as well as this does. I know it has already saved me more than that just by keeping me attentive to my spending.

Bonus:  If you are a college student, you can get YNAB for free!  Instructions here.  

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